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The Sarug Rabbi to the Chief Rabbi: Disparagement of Torah Scholars; You Are Invited to Our Yeshiva

Rabbi Dr. Kenneth Brander sends a letter to the Chief Rabbi following his remarks against high school yeshivas: “I was deeply sorry that a disagreement became a conflict, accompanied by complete disrespect of the Torah scholars of the Religious Zionist sector.”

 Guy Ezra, Srugim News
May 25, 2020 | 2 Sivan, 5780

The remarks of Israel’s Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef, according to which, “there are high school yeshivas, and there are holy yeshivas”, continue to make waves among Religious Zionist rabbis. In his weekly shiur last Saturday night the Chief Rabbi spoke disparagingly about general education and matriculation studies, saying “only the good [rabbis] send to holy yeshivas, and if the rabbi is kind of confused he sends them to high school yeshivas.”

In response, earlier today (Monday) Rabbi Dr. Kenneth Brander sent a letter protesting the Chief Rabbi’s words. Rabbi Dr. Brander is president and Rosh HaYeshiva of Ohr Torah Stone where thousands of Religious Zionist students learn in dozens of institutes including high schools, a yeshiva high school and ulpanot, yeshivot, seminaries, kollelim and rabbinical programs.

In his letter Rabbi Brander noted Rishon LeZion Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s visit to Yeshiva University in New York, where he met with the Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Soloveitchik, who was Rabbi Brander’s rabbi. “When the Rishon LeZion Rabbi Ovadia Yosef of blessed memory visited Yeshiva University he was respectful of our rabbi, Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Soloveitchik, and even hugged and kissed him in the beit midrash. When the students asked Rav Ovadia Yosef, ‘How can you kiss and hug someone in a beit midrash (it is forbidden)?’ Rav Ovadia responded that hugging Rav Soloveitchik is like kissing a Sefer Torah (which is permitted in a beit midrash). Of course our rabbis also differed on questions of outlook and education, but that did not keep them from esteeming and respecting each other due to personal acquaintance and mutual respect,” said Rabbi Brander.

In conclusion, Rabbi Brander invited the Chief Rabbi to visit Ohr Torah Stone’s Neveh Shmuel high school yeshiva, which – according to Ministry of Education data – is one of the leading yeshivas in Israel in scholastic achievements. It is also ranked among the first in national value indices measured by objective factors.

Rabbi Brander called upon the Chief Rabbi to visit and restore a little of the faith in the rabbinical institution that is fast disappearing among the religious Zionist public. “I would be happy to invite the Rabbi to visit Ohr Torah Stone’s Neveh Shmuel yeshiva in the holy city of Efrat, through which the Rabbi can acknowledge and appreciate Torah studies across all sectors, ethnic groups, and communities. Of course we would be honored to hear a shiur by the Rabbi, learn from his teachings and beliefs.

“A visit by the Rabbi will help restore the faith of our students in the institution of the Chief Rabbinate, a faith which unfortunately has eroded in recent years. I hope and pray that the Rabbi will consider my offer in a positive light, and hold out his hand in faith to the world of high school yeshivas.”



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